If you splitboard you can thank the guys above (left to right) Will Ritter of Spark R&D and Tyler Kloster of Karakoram for their solid innovations to the split world over the past few years. Spark R&D must be especially stoked this year to be celebrating the brands 10th anniversary!
2017/2018 will see a few new manufactures enter the splitboard binding world in the United States market along with some major updates from the current industry leaders.
Union Expedition Splitboard Binding
New for the 2017/2018 winter will see another major player enter the splitboard binding world, the Union Binding Company which is releasing the Expedition splitboard binding, this is what professional snowboarder Travis Rice had to say:
“Up until now, the split boarding experience has been hindered by bindings that are built for mountaineering, not snowboarding.”
I don’t fully agree with Travis, however the Union Expedition binding (shown above) does feel much more like a traditional offering from Union making it uniquely different to the other splitboard bindings on the market. The materials, weight and comfort will be tough to match for the other major splitboard binding manufactures in North America including Voile, Spark R&D, Karakoram and a newcomer in Fix Bindings whose release date is tbd.
The use of the pin system does seem to set Union a little behind in terms of current splitboard tech, although the ease of use and ability to get first timers into splitboard may just just outweigh it.
Along with the Expedition binding Union is offering splitboard crampons for 2017/2018, when combined with the new Capita Splitboard and skins, C3 is quickly looking to become a splitboard powerhouse. Which will surely have the current players stepping up their game even more to compete with one of the largest snowboarding binding manufactures in the world for their share of the splitboard binding market.
“I feel like this product is going to change the perception that people have about splitboarding. You don’t have to compromise performance for freedom while touring.” – Bryan Iguchi.
Voile Splitboard Bindings
Voile updated it’s Speed Rail and Light Rail Binding for the 2017/2018 winter complete with a heal lock down function, updated highback featuring 25 degrees of additional front to back movement and 12 different forward lean angles. And for everyone looking for more torsional support the highbacks feature cutouts compatible with Voile straps.
If not for Voile and their decades of splitboard innovations none of this would exist, so be sure to keep Voile on your radar especially considering they are now offering the Speed Rail pinless splitboard binding, crampons and insane highback flexibility. (shown below)
Spark R&D Splitboard Bindings
For the 2017/2018 season Spark R&D updated their Arc and Surge bindings with brand new light weight Pillow Line Straps that look and feel super comfortable. Along with the new straps Spark R&D updated their climbing wires with the addition of the Whammy Bar that should make it even easier to engage or disengage the riser on the way uphill.
Both the Arc Binding and Surge Binding from Spark R&D are also available in Women’s specific versions and colorways.
Also new for 2017/2018 is the Spark R&D Crossbar Clip that is designed to pull both parts of the splitboard in together. In the past the industry relied on either Voile or Karakoram, so it’s nice to see Spark entering this realm as well. The clips seem easy to use and have the ability to be adjusted as needed by turning a set screw. So you can say goodbye to big old gaps between your splitboard moving forward.
Last year Karakoram introduced the splitboard world to there new Flex Lock system, and it looks to be something we will see a lot more of in the future. Whats great about the Flex Lock is it gives you the ability to tighten down your Karakoram bindings against the upper part of your calf giving even more response to the binding while on the way up. With a solid connection between the highback and your ankle strap this innovative system from Karakoram will help to increase lateral support, something the splitboard world, especially soft booters are in dire need of.
Another new piece of tech Karakoram is bringing to the splitboard world comes in the form of new clips to hold your splitboard together. The brand new UltraClips will according to Karakoram:
Once joined the UltraClip fully constrains the seam of your splitboard to eliminate seam rattling, seam shearing, and seam rolling.
The new UltraClip is music to our ears as its can be super frustrating when your board starts to separate over time, even worse is when you can see light through each half of the board. Luckily it looks like those days are coming to an end thanks to new new connectors from both Karakoram and Spark R&D, most likely Voile will follow suit..
A new player is potentially emerging in the splitboard world for 2017/2018 in the form of Fix Bindings. We’re still waiting for more information on the system and release date. The Fix Binding Co splitboard binding I saw at the SIA trade show was light weight, simplistic and looked like a traditional snowboard binding similar to the Union Expedition. This binding looks to be pin free and will have a very unique interface.
More details to follow on this binding from the Fix Binding Co to follow..
There are a ton of splitboard binding manufactures in Europe and even New Zealand, the issue becomes getting gear here to the states. For now we will leave the brands that are not available in North America off this list.
Hard Boot Bindings
If you’re looking for information on hard boot bindings for splitboarding you’re in the wrong place. Having grown up a surfer and spending all my free time in the winter chasing powder I enjoy the feeling of soft boots under foot. Surely the hard boots will make touring much more efficient however for me it’s not worth sacrificing any fun or freedom when going downhill.